Proposed high-speed Northern Lights Express would include Superior stop

A proposed high-speed passenger train that would run between the Twin Cities and Duluth will make a stop in Superior if it ever gets on track, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

The goal is to get the route — called the Northern Lights Express — up and running by 2012 or 2013, but there is still much wrangling ahead on cost estimates and ridership projections, the paper said:

Consultants working on the environmental study have selected Duluth as the northern terminus, and the first southern destination will be Superior, and not along the Munger Trail to Carlton, said Bob Manzoline of the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority. The route then will cross back into Minnesota and through Hinckley to the southern terminus of Minneapolis.

“This will be the preferred route and recommended route to the [Federal Railroad Administration] for the project, so we got over that hump,” said Manzoline, who still is wrangling with the Minnesota Department of Transportation on cost and ridership estimates.

(NLX officials say the train will cost about $600 million, but MnDOT says a high estimate could reach $1 billion. Similar discrepancies exist on ridership projections.)

Some wanted the train to skip the Wisconsin swing, which would knock about 10 minutes off the estimated travel time of two hours and eight minutes.

But consultants said it’s more cost-effective to double track along the existing BNSF Railway route than to build new tracks along the Munger Trail, which is currently only used as a recreational path, the paper reported.

Also, the Superior stop could garner support from Wisconsin politicians, including from Dave Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 12/10/2009 - 01:37 pm.

    A] Venture nothing, and life is less than it should be.– Malcolm Forbes

    B] “If you build it. They will come.” –Ron Kinsella, ‘Field of Dreams’.

    When the trains ran from DLH/SUP to Minneapolis and St. Paul, I always tried to take the train instead of the gray dog buses. In light of present and future rail possibilities and travel let’s get this rail line built. Its time has come.

    The start-up costs may be a bit much but with creative marketing, judicious scheduling, and decent fare pricing and marketing specials this line can be self sufficient. We have the technology, the people, and the chutzpah to make this rail line operable and economically viable.

    The business and economic growth offers some stalwart possibilities like tapping into the tourist trades. Also, look at the future tie-in with high-speed rail[HSR] from Chicago and all points. The future stimulating business possibilities offer great hope for jobs and economic prosperity.

    Again; build it, run it, and market this rail line. The passengers will come and they will ride it! It will if we put ourselves into it. That’s the American Way! The Midwestern way!

    Where and when can I buy tickets? I can’t wait to be “‘training’ the rails” between Mpls/StPaul and Duluth again!

  2. Submitted by Dave Thompson on 12/10/2009 - 03:27 pm.

    This is the stupidest “mass” transit proposal since AMTRAK stopped running to Duluth due to lack of interest. The Twin Cities needs COMMUTER rail, not inter-city rail. The Northern Lights express should stop at Forest Lake.

  3. Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 12/10/2009 - 07:38 pm.

    Rebuttal to comment #2;

    Oh yea of little vision or foresight. As one who frequently took the North Star trains, to Duluth and return, the lack of interest was propagated by political, popular, and marketing apathy as well as a discriminatory business malaise that permeated against train travel. These attitudes were also part of a national trend against passenger rail transit.

    However, your “stupidest” remark had a good idea regarding a stop in Forest Lake. That stop could be part of the inter-city high speed rail connection with Duluth or Superior with Hinckley being the midway stop. Besides Forest Lake could serve as a North suburban stop for those you want to avoid the Midway and/or St.Paul Depot terminal stops.

    Also, the Northern Lights could eventually tie in with the MTC LRT networks and Amtrak rail network. Just think of the future possibilities for this connection. James J. Hill would be pleased if he is looking down from the Hereafter.

    The economic and marketing benefits can be realized with judicious planning and acute business acumen/savvy. As I stated before in my preceding posting; “When can I obtain tickets?”

    “If you build [or run] it, they will come!”

  4. Submitted by Dave Thompson on 12/11/2009 - 01:57 pm.

    They already built it (the subsidized AMTRAK to Duluth). The subsidy cost more than a Greyhound ticket. And still, it died for lack of interest. It is hard to argue for dreams when the cold, hard facts of historical failure are staring you in the face.

  5. Submitted by Kristi LeMair on 02/01/2011 - 05:52 pm.

    I know so many students from colleges that would take the train!!!

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